February 20, 2007

This I Believe by Ellen Birkett Morris

Telling my own storyMy beliefs are inexorably tied to my circumstances. I was born three months early and weighed under three pounds. A mild case of cerebral palsy left me unable to walk until surgery at age five corrected the problem, but left me with a slight limp.As the last person picked for dodgeball, I learned early on that comparing myselfEllen Morris to others was a fruitless endeavor. I believe that each us of has unique gifts that must be nurtured and shared, not weighed and measured.From schoolyard taunts, I learned that people can be cruel and that this usually stems from a fear of that which is different. People seldom recognize, much less celebrate, the ways in which they differ from their peers.I learned that while others may love you, they can’t heal you or make you happy, so it is important to learn how to protect and comfort yourself. I don’t let others make my choices for me. I strive to surround myself with the people and things that make me happy. I learned that during trying times, when my greatest impulse is to closet myself away and lick my wounds, it is important to reach out to others and let their spark light up my life if my own spark has dimmed. I’ve learned that only I can tell my own story. So as a writer I’ve had little to fear from other writers and I’m free to celebrate their success and learn from the stories they tell. I believe we have much to learn from animals, who live in the moment, give affection freely and greet the world with a sense of joy.By watching others, I’ve learned that inspiration is all around us. There are as many ways to live, love and solve problems as there are people in the world.I have learned that the one constant in life is change, so I must remind myself that if I am not where I want to be in my life now, I will certainly be elsewhere in the future.Most of all, I believe I must confront life’s challenges with courage, grateful for the chance to show what I am made of. Ellen Birkett Morris is a Louisville-based writer. Contact her at leo@leoweekly.comLEO, in partnership with WFPL-FM, is publishing This I Believe essays by Louisville-area residents. To write your own essay stating a core belief, go to www.thisibelieve.org. Some essays will be published or broadcast, and LEO will publish additional essays on its Web site.